* Be on the lookout next week for a guest blog from our friend, My! And don’t forget, we are always looking for feminist questions and queries to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org!*
What I’ve been taught
– Fat is bad (and lazy and unattractive and nothing you should be content with)
– Hide your body if it is fat
– It is your fault if you are fat and something you should be ashamed of
– Seriously, cover up because no one should have to see your rolls, your flab, your stretch marks, your cellulite
– You aren’t worth as much as non-fat people
– You would know more love if you weren’t fat
– I am fat and it’s not okay
What I wasn’t taught
– ALL bodies are animated by love and the light of the universe
– It is okay to love yourself as is, in fact it’s something we are made to do
What I’m learning
– Bodies are bodies are bodies – there’s nothing inherently better or good about a smaller body and vise versa.
– All bodies take up space, it’s what they do
– When a dude says he doesn’t like “big girls”, that’s just because he’s been ingrained with that bias since childhood and if he hasn’t worked through that, you don’t want to be with him anyway. Whether you’re a “big girl” or not. Stick with woke dudes.
– I’m fat
– I’m fat and active and happy and that’s okay
– I can wear what I want for the sole reason that I want to
– My body is my mind is my heart is my soul so be as gentle and loving as possible to it all
– How I talk to myself matters because my sisters, my daughters, my mothers, my fellow women see how I treat myself and take (often unconscious) notes
I’ve been fat for a long time. Probably not for as long as I was told I was fat (from maybe age eight or nine) but still, for a long time. And I’m only a few years into unpacking all the things I was taught as a child about bodies. I reached a point about five years ago where I would be feeling good about myself – feeling content with where I was in life, exercising, laughing a lot with friends, etc – and forget how fat I was. Until I caught myself at a certain angle in a mirror and remembered, “oh right, I’m actually really fat and not as okay as I’ve been thinking.” That has actually happened to me. I’ve literally thought to myself, “I don’t have the right to be as happy and satisfied with my life as I am because of how I look”. The mirror is a terrifying foe. And by mirror, I really mean all the baggage in my head from the fat-shaming society and community in which I was raised.
Cue Ellen’s body revolution. It’s been years in the making.
The relatively basic idea of bodies being bodies and just taking up space and existing as complex forms of beautiful life is revolutionary for me. Why? Because the shit I’ve been taught runs DEEP. I know it will take even more time before I can see a thigh and just think, “ahhh, a thigh” and not think “wow what a teeny tiny thigh, I wonder what it’s like to have a thigh like that” or “yeesh, that’s a humongous thigh and it grosses me out a little even though I don’t want it to, oh wait, that’s my thigh maybe I should love it, but it’s so gross. It’s gross, right? Because it’s so big and bumpy? Yes, gross. I’m gross. And big and bumpy and unlovable.”.
I’m telling you people, whatever you’ve been taught about beauty and attractiveness and worth and bodies runs deep. Especially, but not exclusively, if you’re a woman. No matter your weight. And no matter whether you’ve started grappling with these ideas.
And if you’re like me and the demons are inside you and inside the mirror and they’re telling you you’re not enough no matter the state of your heart and your thighs, then I invite you to join me in revolution. Upset the power dynamics. Snatch the megaphone away from the demons and hold it up to that whispering voice telling you you’re beautiful and okay. And if you’re not sure you can hear that voice, then start telling yourself you’re beautiful and okay – and surround yourself with others who tell you you’re beautiful and okay – until she’s ready to come out.
Body revolution is hard-won victories and countless setbacks. But it’s so necessary. Not just for my well-being and mental health but because I reached a point where I couldn’t just be part of the machine anymore. One example: I was being taught constantly that fat people are lazy. And as a fat person, I knew I wasn’t lazy and still found myself in this place of not knowing who to believe. And for so long the demons won:
I know you just did a triathlon, but you’re so lazy it’s not up for question.
I know you run after three little boys five days a week, but jeez, you’re so fat and lethargic.
You practice yoga and feel stronger in more ways than one? Yeeeeeah, but you’re still so fat so what good is it doing?
And I’m here to say: I’m over this. I’m over letting my society, my community, American culture tell me what to believe about myself. I’m done letting those voices trump my own. I’m fat. So what? I’m also attractive and fun and smart and beautiful and active and enthusiastic and falling in love with my body. Body revolution, babes, try it. It’ll change your life.
This post (and revolution) brought to you by:
– Lindy West and her wonderful writing and humor (including her new book, Shrill)
– Body glide anti-chafing balm (a life saver when one is a fat girl hiking in shorts)
– My willingness to work hard
– My childhood friend’s mother who told me when I was in high school after I said my legs were fat, “yeah…but they’re your legs”.
– The many people who told me I was attractive before I knew it myself
– Ice cream (amiright, Keely??)
– The fat girls who post pictures wearing “skinny girl clothes” (aka: clothes) on the internet
– My first yoga instructor
– My amazing body
– K and B, two friends who never for a second have ever let me think I am anything but a sexy force to be reckoned with
– Love, sweet love
I’m so fat that sometimes I resort to eating my friends. Yummm!
Always drinking and eating to excess…that’s me! (Shoutout to Tim in the background…a faithful empower couple reader!)
Me after finishing the “more difficult” trail in the Allegheny National Forest a week ago. Fat hiker alert. (Hint: it’s like normal hiking)